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Jim Middleton image via Twitter
Margaret Wertheim image via blog.artcenter.edu

Internationally renowned science writer, communicator and exhibition curator Margaret Wertheim, and respected journalist Jim Middleton have been appointed 2015 Vice-Chancellor’s Fellows at the University of Melbourne.

Currently the Director of the Institute for Figuring, Ms Wertheim is the author of six books on the cultural history of science, and has written for the New York Times, New Scientist, The Guardian and the Wall Street Journal.

A pioneer in the field of embodied science outreach, Ms Wertheim has developed innovative techniques for engaging audiences about science and mathematics through material activities, such as paper folding and crochet. One famous example of this is the Crochet Coral Reef, seen by more than two million people in a dozen countries in venues such as the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History.

Jim Middleton (image via Twitter0

Mr Middleton, a reporter on international and Australian politics for more than four decades, started at the ABC in 1970. He was the ABC’s US correspondent during the Reagan years, was Chief Political Correspondent for four Prime Ministers and helped establish Triple J. He is currently Special Correspondent for Sky News.

As part of his Fellowship, among other things he will guest lecture in the Centre for Advancing Journalism, lead the development of audio and video content for The Citizen and be responsible for helping to build an international journalism program. 

During her time at the University, Ms Wertheim will complete further research and write a book on the topic of embodied and material practices at the intersection of art and science, while also presenting a number of guest lectures exploring how concepts in mathematics can be practically demonstrated and communicated. She will also work with the Carlton Connect Initiative to develop a series of programs focussed on art, science and the environment.

Margaret Wertheim in 2011 (image via blog.artcenter.edu)

“The VC Fellowship is an important opportunity to explore in depth topics that are at the leading edge of current thinking about public science engagement, and to look at new methodologies for activating our innate capacities for science in ways that are not only intellectually stimulating but also aesthetically pleasurable,” she said.

Vice-Chancellor, Professor Glyn Davis, said he was looking forward to the contributions both would make. “The University is looking forward to welcoming Margaret and Jim.  Their combined experience will be of great benefit to the wider University community and beyond.”

Founded in 1997, the Vice-Chancellor’s Fellowships provide a residency for distinguished public intellectuals to contribute to the public life of the University.

Past Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow appointments include Dr Fiona Stanley, Mr Petro Georgiou, Professor Kate Auty, Dr David Kemp and Ms Maxine McKew.

Mr Middleton officially commenced his Fellowship on May 1, while Ms Wertheim will officially commence on August 1.